Bar Owner Tyler Hollinger Talks Farm-to-Bar Concept


Tyler Hollinger’s Farm-to-Bar Concept in NYC

Tyler Hollinger is the multi-talented co-owner and head mixologist at Festivál Café in New York City. Leading the Big Apple’s one-and-only Farm-to-Bar, cocktail café is a demanding role, but Tyler’s history of hard-earned success suggests he is more than qualified for the task. Tyler has nearly two decades of experience coordinating some of the city’s most dynamic events and experiences. Not to mention, he also has a background in the entertainment industry as an actor and filmmaker for many popular NYC-based shows. 

 

As a pioneer of the Farm-to-Bar movement, Tyler intends to familiarize the masses with his unique approach to running his concoction café. He remarks, “The Farm-to-Bar cocktail program features hyper-seasonal mixology, which celebrates our local farms and fresh produce. We change the menu four times a year based on the season and primarily serve what is currently in the ground or recently harvested.” Most of Festivál Café’s ingredients, liquors, and beers are sourced within 100 miles of NYC. We asked Tyler about running a Farm-to-Bar concept.

 


 

What’s your process or planning seasonal menus? 

Usually, the first step is to reach out to our farmers and inquire about what crops they are excited about each upcoming season. Then, Executive Chef Andrew Maturana and I sit down and talk about seasonality, and which produce we want to highlight on our food and beverage menus. From there, we narrow it down to key ingredients that can be replicated many times across the menu in various creative iterations. As far as cocktail menu creation goes, I first look at the four designations on our cocktail menu Libations (Normal ABV), Lo-Bations (Lo ABV), No-Bations (No ABV), and Ice Box (High ABV) to see how these ingredients fit into an overall menu. Then I look at how the top five liquors (vodka, tequila, rum, gin, whiskey) will fit into the categories and map out how to best feature our key ingredients each season. I also consider what is trending in mixology and what is hot and throw in a couple of curveballs and more adventurous and epicurean ideas. 

 

Festivál is Farm-to-Bar, can you explain a little bit about what that means and how it works? 

Most of our ingredients, liquors and beers are sourced from within 100 miles of NYC. Farm-to-Bar is the same idea as a farm-to-table program just re-invented for the bar by highlighting local breweries, fisheries, and farmers in both our food and mixology programs. We call our cuisine “New American” with an emphasis on small snackable shareable plates to pair with our signature cocktails. Our partner farm BAREFOOT BOTANICALS  in Doyelstown, PA is a great asset for so many of our ingredients, syrups, tinctures, bitters, garnish, and more! 

 

In the Northeast, can you share a little bit about challenges and advantages of being Farm-to-Bar? 

Essentially the winter months don’t yield as much as other months and the autumn fall harvest season is very, very short. So, we look more towards the root vegetable and other ingredients that are not “fruity.” Right now, we are in the winter menu, and this will last into April when we switch to spring. We typically start our seasonal menus a little later than the seasons, which is a challenge as time is limited, but it just means that the menus are a little behind the season towards the beginning and end. Creatively speaking, I welcome the limitation of options in winter as a challenge. Frankly, I get excited by them.  

 

Can you share any tips or things to consider for other bartenders/bars that are hoping to move to more local and seasonal ingredients? 

Find local partners. Just going through your produce distribution companies isn’t enough. Reach out to local farms, breweries, fisheries, and apiaries and develop long-lasting partnerships where they eventually grow specifically for you!

 

Any favorite ingredients to work with right now? 

For winter, I am big into huckleberries, moondrop grapes, turmeric, sweet beets, lavender, and star anise. I’m also into the reemergence of different ways to use vanilla. Typically, we only see it as a sweet ingredient, but natural vanilla is very dry and doesn’t have to be sweet unless you want it to be. I am also experimenting with different umami blends with white soy and dash blends in my Dirty Martinis to elevate the staid classic drink. We are also running a special sweet beet vodka cocktail with Raspberry + Elderflower. It has a Ceylon Tea Foam and looks just incredible with a neon red color! It’s the super embodiment of “Farm-to-Bar” as people don’t expect beets to be in their cocktail, but they come out sweet and delicious when juiced fresh. 

 

Is there a “must order” food and beverage pairing for you? 

Short Rib Egg Yolk Gnocchi and our Angels in Manhattan cocktail that features Vanilla Rooibos Angel’s Envy Bourbon, sweet vermouth and mole bitters. Those flavors combined with the umami of the mushrooms in the gnocchi make it a must-have!  

 

Any thoughts on what trends we’ll see behind the bar as we head into 2022? 

I hope the gimmicks go away, like the “FlavorBlaster” and smoking cocktails, which add very little to the drink. My New Year’s resolution is to take a closer look at high-ABV cocktails. There are so many delicious forgotten cocktails that need to come back and perhaps for spring/summer find a way to make tiki “Farm-to-Bar” cocktails. With the recent renaissance of the Espresso Martini, I look forward to other coffee cocktails following suit. I would love to break out my recipe for a bourbon espresso revolver variation called the Velvet Revolver, made with elecampane honey and velvet falernum. 

 


 

Another NY Groove

Ingredients: 

  • 1 oz. Laird’s Apple Jack 
  • oz. spiced tum 
  • 1/2 oz. Velvet Falernum 
  • 1/2 oz. Rockey’s Botanical 
  • oz. Red Jacket Apple Cider 

Preparation: Shake and serve over pebble ice. Garnish with grated cinnamon, cinnamon stick, and apple slice with thyme. 

 

 

 

Ginger Turmeric Mule

Ingredients:  

  • 2 oz. Titos Handmade Vodka 
  • 1 oz. Intense Ginger Liqueur 
  • 1 oz. lime juice 
  • 1 oz Barefoot Farms Ginger Syrup 

Preparation: Dash ginger bitters and add seltzer.

 

 

 

Tyler Hollinger Biography: Creative Director, GM & Partner

Tyler Hollinger is the co-owner and head mixologist at Festivál Café. In addition, he’s also the owner of HIGHLIFE PRODUCTIONS LLC, and co-owner of SECRET SUMMER FESTIVAL, AQUARIUS FESTIVAL, and SSUNDAZE. He has over 15 years of experience managing and marketing some of the city’s most dynamic events and experiences. He is also a filmmaker and actor on many well-known NYC based television shows. He is a graduate of Boston College and The Carrol School of Management. He hosts the wildly popular YouTube show How to Party He is a big proponent of the “Farm-to-Bar” movement and sees exceptional mixology as not just cocktails, but an overall experience.  

 Follow him on Instagram: @THollingerOfficial

 

 

 

 





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